The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Joy of Birdwatching Activities: Exploring Bird Habitats

    • Via
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Activity 1 (1). I visit my feeders and I see Red-Winged Blackbirds, Cardinals, Black Capped Chickadees, Red and White Breasted Nuthatches,  and I can't even get to naming them all! (2). We have a marsh near our house and it has Mallards, Canada Geese, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, Goldfinches, American Robins, European Starlings, and more!!! (Plus some Kingfishers...)
    • Cynthia
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      Activity 1: Another trip: I visited Irvine Regional Park in Orange, CA.  Park of the park is grassy with oak and eucalyptus trees; the other part is arid, shrubby, and wilder.  On the wild side: CA Quail, American Kestrel, a Harris’s Hawk (later learned it had escaped from a falconer!), three Red-tailed Hawks, Acorn Woodpeckers (I usually see them in the oaks on the grassy side of the park), and many others. The grassy area included Indian Peafowl/Hens and chicks, Wood Ducks, Mandarin Ducks, Red-crowned Parrots, Egyptian Geese and goslings, a fledgling Barn Owl, Oak Titmouse, and others.  A great day for birding!AEB388AF-F966-467F-B4BD-23C6ED1E5A45C730511E-56A4-4C95-BCFD-FBB511C70A5DCA8DD223-1EC4-4105-880C-6F52A8CE0F30
    • Cynthia
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      Oops.  My narrative got separated from the picture below.  One more time.  Yesterday I visited Mile Square Regional Park in  Fountain Valley, CA (Orange County).  I saw some Orange-cheeked Waxbills (pictured below)  foraging with Pin-tailed Whydahs.  Both are African birds that have naturalized in Southern California. In one eucalyptus tree I saw a Downy Woodpecker, Yellow Warbler, Western Tanager, House Wren, Wilson’s Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler. Today I visited the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary as I had heard that three Stilt Sandpipers had dropped in.  They had! Very rare to observe them in our state, except at the Salton Sea. In one pond I observed American Avocets, Black-necked Stilts, Northern Shovelers, Western Sandpipers. Many shore birds pass through here on their southward journey.
    • Cynthia
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
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    • Jennifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Activity 1: I live in the northern part of Los Angeles. In my condo complex on the greenbelt between condos I have observed Hummingbirds, as well as a Black Phoebe who visits and hunts around the same time everyday. I have a Eucalyptus tree nearby and saw and heard a Nuttall Woodpecker. In the Spring the Western Tanagers migrate through and Love the Eucalyptus. They are loud and busy. You can often see flashes of yellow while they forage in the upper part of the tree. I also noticed the appearance of a Red Tailed Hawk when the Tanagers were around. I was quite surprised that I would find any birds in this sliver of green! In Contrast, about 45 minutes away I was bird watching in Ventura. I saw a Juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron in the marina perched on a boat line, watching the water below. There were several Grackles looking for food near the dining areas. On the beach I observed the Long-billed Curlew using his long beak to search for food. There were numerous Hermanns Gulls with the beautiful orange beak.
    • Meg
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Activity 1: I live in the Washington, D.C. area so I went down to Rock Creek Park. I was at the creek when I spotted a Belted Kingfisher skimming over the creek. I continued on to a wooded pond where I spotted a Green Heron catching some minnows.
    • Karate Mom
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Activity 1:  where I go biking, there are two different habitats:  forested and wetlands/shorelines - and very different types of birds are found in each one.  In the wetlands/shorelines, I’ve spotted osprey, cormorants, kingfishers, herons, gulls, a great egret and common terns. In the forested area, the birds are very different. I’ve spotted American goldfinches, sparrows, and cedar waxwings.  Definitely I can see the difference in what these birds prefer in terms of habitats.
    • Lou Anne
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Activity 2. The birds at down house were more forest or open habitat birds and the birds at the nature preserve were more water fowl and shore birds.
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      Looking at the checklist for Roger Road, Arizona, I was struck by the variety of water birds that appeared. That part of Arizona I expected to be dry. Many of the birds listed were what I would expect. Then there were different ducks, the Greater White-fronted Goose, Long- billed Dowitcher, Least Sandpiper listed as high counts. It turns out that this is the location of Aqua Caliente Park and Sweetwater Wetlands Park, major bird watching hot spots. High bird counts for Mount Lemmon were not surprisingly birds that like conifer forests, pine and oak woods as habitat. Some of these birds are the Yellow-eyed Junco, Pine Siskin and the Yellow-rumped Warbler. Mount Lemmon turns out to be the highest elevation in the Santa Catalina Mountains. It is known for hiking in the summer, skiing and is an amazing bird hot spot. Arizona sounds like a beautiful place to visit and a great bird watching destination. Such a diverse landscape.
    • Mark
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      Activity 1: At the local conservation area I spotted at least three distinct habitats. In the wooded area, I spotted a pileated woodpecker. In the pond, I spotted a mute swan. In the open area, I caught quick glimpses of small songbirds, but wasn’t able to distinguish them by their songs / calls. One day I’d love to be able to identify birds by their vocalizations. I woke up in a tent in Algonquin Park this summer and there was a choir outside of my tent. Would be great to identify them!   Activity 2: I noticed there were Turkey vultures at Mount Lemmon but not as Roger Road. I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg though.
    • Yulia
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Activity 1: I decided to compare river mouth at the beach (aquatic habitat) and some bushes on the side of the road in the abandoned farm fields (scrub-shrub habitat). Aquatic habitat is full of visible and countable birds generally the size of a pigeon or bigger; waterfowl, wading birds and shore birds. With the help of a camera and Merlin ID application I could identify around 24 bird species. For example, comparing my picture of a bird in flight and pictures in Merlin app helped me figure out that my bird wasn’t a Franklin’s Gull, but an Andean Gull.  Both birds are white with gray wings and black heads and both of them can be found at that place. The tips of its wings gave it away. Andean Gull On the other hand, scrub-shrub habitat experience was frustrating. A lot of swooshing shadows of birds the size of a sparrow or smaller. Even a prepared list of most likely birds to see in the area didn’t help much. I couldn’t spot them and had to rely a lot on my hearing. The problem was I didn’t recognize the sounds I heard. The number of bird species I could identify in a scrub-shrub habitat was 9. There were a lot of flying insects and insect eating birds, like Blue and White Swallow. I even spotted a raptor (American Kestrel) sitting on the cables. I also managed to capture a couple of bush residents. Cinereous Conebill Sinereous Conebill Slender-Billed Finch Slender-Billed Finch I need to do a better work on recognizing birds’ flight patterns and songs. Activity 2: I went as simple as ducks need lakes and woodpeckers need trees. Down House: A big variety of Woodpeckers (woods or parks); Sevenoaks: Huge variety of Waterfowl (lakes). Mt. Lemmon: Woodpeckers (woods or parks); Roger Road: Waterfowl (lakes).
    • Tricia
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Activity 1:  At our nearby pond I saw about 15 Welcome Swallows swooping low over the surface of the water, catching tin insects that were invisible to me.  Beside the pond there was a group of Australian Wood Ducks who appeared to be foraging in the grass.  In the pond itself there were several Eurasian Coots, who occasionally dived below the surface.  The reed bed at the end of the pond is also home to a large group of starlings.  They fly away in groups during the day to find food, then come back to the pond at sundown to roost for the night.
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      We live in proximity to woods and to shoreline.  Some woodland birds we have seen are chickadees, cardinals, blue jays and hummingbirds (!).  Some shorebirds we have seen are Canada geese, mallard ducks, and great blue herons.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Activity 2:  Exploring the species found in the two spots in Arizona (Roger Rd and Mt. Lemmon): It seemed that there were birds associated with aquatic environments at the Roger Rd. site, i.e. ducks, herons, egrets, teal; whereas I could not find a single one at the Mt. Lemmon site.  So Roger Rd. probably has some type of water habitat at the location, whereas Mt. Lemmon is probably devoid of much water habitat. On the other hand, it seemed that at Mt. Lemmon, I found more birds of prey, such as hawks, falcons, kestrel, merlin, osprey.  Although there were these types sighted at Roger Rd., it seemed that there was a greater diversity of these types sighted at Mt. Lemmon.
    • Lydia
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Activity 1: There is a forest preserve that I often visit. In the wooded areas I will see woodpeckers, indigo buntings, cedar waxwings, robins, and small hawks. There is also a pond where I find blue herons and egrets in the water and goldfinches and kingfishers flying around it for bugs. Another area they have is a marshy place where there is usually a green heron and sometimes a killdeer.
    • Janet
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      20200807_161758 Activity 1: This is on the edge of a dam, with lots of reeds all around, the most prolific bird are the weavers, "Cape Weavers" & "Southern Masked Weavers". There are many weavers nests all along the edge of the water, hanging from the reeds. Apart from the weavers, there are" Yellow-billed ducks" and they forage for plants and invertebrates, other birds are the "Eurasian Moorhen" and the "Levaillant Cisticola" The Levaillant Cisticola is a tiny little bird with a high pitched chirp, it eats short-horned grasshoppers, beetles, weevils & flies . I have seen a pair of "White-faced Whistling-Ducks" which are uncommon in my area, a striking duck and apparently feeds at night, they dive down to obtain their food, mainly feed on underwater tubers, also molluscs and small aquatic animals. Vineyards - The "Cape Francolin" walks between the vine rows , the male can weigh up to 980g they eat invertebrates and fallen fruit, then the "Southern Fiscal", perches on the wire holding up the vines and then swoops down on insects or small vertebrates they then impale their prey on a thorn or piece of barbed wire and tear off pieces of flesh. Then there are two types of the waxbills, the "Common Waxbill" & "Swee Waxbill" tiny finches with short wings, normally in flocks found on the vines and on the ground around the vines, they feed on grass seeds and insects especially during the breeding season.
    • Haruko
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I happened to drive through a flat farmland earlier in the week, and some areas were flooded from recent rain.  There were many great blue herons and great egrets, which was an amazing sight.  I sometimes see them at lakes in my neighborhood but not that many at one time.  Also, I think there was a flock of turkey vultures at the edge of the water.  They were very far and it was difficult to make sure they were turkey vultures, but I think they were because I saw many turkey vultures circling in the sky prior to that.  They were just "hanging out" with some of them stretching their wings, together with other species, and I didn't know they would hang out by the water like that.  They almost looked like some kind of cormorants from far, but I don't think we have cormorants in my area.
    • Jamies
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Activity 1: I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I usually drive almost 30 minutes to the nearby park, Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park in St. Albert to watch birds. There are two different habitats in that big provincial park. The wetland area where there were mallards, ruddy ducks, and American Coots. The shrubs around the wetland area where there were Yellow Warblers, Black- Capped Chickadees, sparrow sp. and American Crows.
    • Kimberly
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      In comparing the birds observed in Down House and Seven Oak, I have come to the following conclusions as to the habitat type of each location; Down House- I believe this is a mixed woodland habitat. Many of the birds observed here rely on either a forest habitat or meadow habitat. The Cool Tit and Sparrow Hawk rely on woods for nesting and perching. The Red-Kite and the ring neck pheasant rely on open fields for foraging, nesting and hunting. Seven Oak- I believe this is a marshland with areas transitioning to meadow or heath. Many of the birds observed here rely on open water or marsh for food and shelter. For example the  Greylag Goose, Garganey and little Grebe. There are also birds observed here, like the turtle dove that require a meadow or heath habitat.
    • Ruth
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Looking at the Down house and Sevenoaks- Noticed the Great Spotted woodpecker there were more sightings at the Sevenoaks, and variety of birds more diverse. There are larger variety of water birds, birds that live in larger trees. The size of the birds different with larger breeds in the Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
    • Eva
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      Activity 1: I have recently been to a coastal habitat by the Pacific Ocean and a mixed forest habitat at 900 meters above sea level on the Caribbean slopes. In the coastal habitat, I saw: the Common Gallinule, Yellow-throated Toucans (Chestnut-mandibled), the Red-crowned and Hoffmann's Woodpecker hybrid, Scarlet Macaws, and Great Kiskadees. In the mixed forest habitat I saw: lots of different hummingbird species, tanager species, euphonia species, woodpecker species, raptor species, and some other species like the Rufous-tailed Jacamar, the Brown Jay, the Keel-billed Toucan, and the Red-bellied Pigeon. In both habitats I saw woodpeckers and flycatchers, and different toucan species, but each habitat had very different species.
    • Cathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 45
      For now I will comment on one of my favorite parks and compare it to an ocean or bay visit. My favorite relatively local park (30 min away) is interesting as it has a few mini-habitats within.  It borders a farm (across the street) which I believe grows wheat.  In the Fall I have seen many Canadian Geese there, even sometimes in the Summer.  The walking path goes through an area that has some tall grasses on one side and trees on the other.  In this area, I see mocking birds and sometimes blue birds (my favorite).    The path then goes in the woods where I was delighted to discover, for the first time, some brown thrashers.  Many birds as of yet unknown to me (due to a higher canopy) live there as well.  (I need to learn more calls.)   Of course, the typical birds of the area (cardinals, woodpeckers) hang out here too.  I believe I've heard wood thrushes here.  Here at this park I have also seen (and heard) mourning doves and occasionally red winged blackbirds.  At the edge of the woods, all types of sparrows flit about in the low grass, looking for food. Another favorite place to go is Ocean City, MD or nearby Cape Henlopen, Delaware.  Here I can see birds such as osprey,  piping plovers, sand pipers and sea gulls.  Not far from the ocean is bayside.  Here I can be treated to seeing herons and egrets.  This exercise sure has me wanting to go back to the beach and visit! If I see something else when I do visit either location I hope to report back!
    • rita
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
        Activity #2 Roger Road has to be a very diverse ecosystem- It has to have trees for the woodpeckers, probably buildings or bridges for the swallows, pigeons, although they could live near open water, open water for the herons and Ibis, ducks, and other water and shore birds, and a certain amount of open sky for all the hawks and birds of the open  sky. Mt Lemmon, on the other hand, while a diverse ecosystem, is mainly woods for all of the thrushes, warbles, and flycatchers, and shrub scrub and breaks in the woods for the hawks and hunting birds of the sky-there is a mountain chickadee and a Canyon wren, so maybe there are mountains- a pine siskin, so maybe there are pines- an acorn woodpecker, so maybe there are oaks.
    • rita
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      Activity #1 I've been birding at Lille park and at Leslie Science Center in Ann Arbor. There is a lot of overlap in birds- robins, cardinals, goldfinches, chickadees, but Lillie Park is near a pond, and a Great Blue Heron flew right at me. I was walking along a path and a robin started giving its alarm call, and a Great Blue Heron flew out of the rushes in the pond almost directly at me, then swerved and hid somewhere in another group of rushes further up the path. I went to look for it but could not find it. There are tons of swallows at Leslie Science Center- I don't know what kind they are, but they may be barn swallows, as they seem to dwell in the eaves of the buildings there. I also came across some woodpeckers- some flickers feeding on the ground and and in a tree. And I both heard and saw a large Hawk fly overhead. Both of those birds could have been sighted at Lillie Park, but the Heron definitely would not be at Leslie Science Center as it is near a woods. There is a pond in the woods, but I haven't birded there as yet.
    • Melissa
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I live in San Diego. The house we bought has many palm trees, but those aren't native to the region. Since taking this course, I've realized that birds don't like to hang out on and around the queen and pygmy date palms. BUT around the neighborhood I've noticed they find refuge in the Mexican palm trees. There I've seen Western Kingbirds and Lesser Mockingbirds. I love how this course has made me look up and pay attention. I'm also looking into replacing some of the shrubs on my property with more region-specific varieties.